Music Review: "76 Trombones" by Dan Zanes
76 Trombones by Dan Zanes and Friends
There are few true superstars in kids' music, but Zanes is one of them. And he attained that status with his trademark laid back, folky rock sound. He's the Dylan of children's music, not the Andrew Lloyd Weber, which is why a CD of Broadway show tunes seemed like a potentially risky departure for the Brooklyn troubadour. But he handles it beautifully, of course. He puts a very Zanes-y spin on classic from A Chorus Line, Annie, Peter Pan and more, transforming songs you're used to hearing as big and booming production numbers into very pure, roots-of-rock sounding fare.
The title track gets a little Dixieland sprinkled into it, while "Gary, Indiana," also from The Music Man, get a jazzy beat behind it. Peter Pan songs get rocked out, as the drum-driven "I Won't Grow Up" takes on an early Who sound and "I'm Flying" ends up feeling like it could be a Pixies track. The traditionally belted "Tomorrow" from Annie is given a much softer treatment here, as a bilingual Spanish-English ballad subtitled "Manana." Guest vocalists -- another Zanes trademark -- appropriately come from Broadway backgrounds, like Carol Channing on "Hello, Dolly," and Matthew Broderick on another Dolly tune, "Before the Parade Passes By." The best track on the whole disc, though, is possibly "I Am What I Am," from La Cage Aux Folles, which works wonderfully as an uplifting, believe-in-yourself number with just the right kind of message for kids. All in all, 76 Trombones makes a nice addition to the Dan Zanes canon.
Listen to "76 Trombones":
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